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               PLACE DE LA SEIGNEURIE: BOUCHERVILLE, QC

Frédéric Neault's Commentary

User submitted December 28, 2011

ABOUT BOUCHERVILLE

Boucherville is a rather typical suburb, with its low density housing, segregated uses and homogeneous population (caucasian, white collars, catholic and French-speaking ­ we’re in Quebec!).

While this municipality actually exists since the New France era, back in the 17th century (you can easily locate the street blocks of the “Old Boucherville” on aerial pictures), its true expansion dates back to the 1960’s, when the expressway network of the Montreal area was spreading, and particularly at the opening of the Louis-H.-Lafontaine Bridge/Tunnel, in 1967. From that time, Boucherville was directly connected to Montreal and expanded very fast.

Today, Boucherville has an aging housing stock, though well maintained and still attractable to new households. Residential developments are now mainly oriented to an upper class clientele.

PLACE DE LA SEIGNEURIE

In the oldest “suburbanite” part of the town stands a small neighbourhood mall called “Place de La Seigneurie”, at 280, boulevard du Fort-St-Louis. Built somewhere in the 1960’s, this small mall always kept its original layout : one straight corridor linking two small anchors and lined with small tenants.

ACTUAL MALL TENANTS

Nowadays, most of the tenants are gone and lets the spaces empty or replaced with discount stores (Tigre Geant and Dollarama). The home improvement store anchor (Rona) still stands. There are also some tenants that obviously seem to be on “life support”, like hair dresser and esthetician.

Some of the empty spaces now serves for the community groups or for educationnal classes (école La Réussite School, which also is located in the office part of the mall, at the second floor).

FORMER TENANTS

Personnaly, the only thing I could remember, since I didn’t grew in that town, is the video store (club video International) I remember my cousins and I went when I was 8 or so (back at the end of the ‘80s). It was the first time I went in a video store, we rented Ghostbuster, and I remember the mall was busy and occupied with many tenants.

The other former tenants were told to me from my 3 cousins, who grew and still live in Boucherville. As far as they remember, the anchor now occupied with a Rona (hardware store with an indoor lumber yard detached from the rest of the store) has always been a Rona. For the other one, the actual Tigre Géant (or Giant Tiger in English-Canada, a discount department store) was a Croteau (discount clothing store) by the mid-90s to the mid-00s and a Marché Richelieu (grocery) before.

Among the other noticeable tenants who were there before, the SAAQ (Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec ­ the Quebec’s equivalent of the American DMVs), an Esso gas station with stalls for mechanics (now demolish and replaced with pavement in the parking lot), a gift shop, a renowned confectionery and some clothing stores.

ARCHITECTURE

Most of the mall kept its original design : the brick siding, the main entrance, the rounded marquees and the mall with its side windows at the roof are most of their noticeable details. It’s even hard to notice an element of design that might have changed (excepted for the tenants and the crowd, of course!).

OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE FUTURE

This state of conservation might even, to my opinion, be an opportunity to enhance the building and even to protect it. While new malls tend to recreate an ambiance with no spirit, this mall stood honest with its design (maybe due to a lack of investment, but whatever...) and with its neighbourhood.

The mall got older at the same pace than its neighbourhood and the stores left as their customers left the familial house. Today, now that the neighbourhood houses new households and is still lively, but the mall struggles to survive: a small parking lot, clamped by a railroad, an expressway and a residential sector, with no other commercial anchors nearby, except for Les Promenades Montarville ­ a small but busy mall nearby ­, and the attraction of the Centre de la Rive-Sud (an open space commercial area in the new part of Boucherville, anchored with a Ikea and a Coscto, to name a few) and Les Promenades St-Bruno (the main shopping centre of the South Shore).

The departure of the grocery store has caused a great emptiness in the mall. To my opinion, this mall still can survive, but will have to find itself a “vocation”, or a “speciality”. In the heart of an aging ­ but still lively ­ neighbourhood, a food-oriented mall could be interesting: a grocery, a bakery, a butchery, a liquor store, etc. could attract customers from the area looking for something else than any supermarket.

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